Starstruck, Not Dumbstruck.
Real talk on retaining your dignity when interacting with your favorite celebrities.
If you are an average, low-life human, meeting someone famous will often result in the following: lunch-table clout; thirty-something retweets; a temporary rush-of-blood-to-the-brain.
What you won’t get is a chance at a do-over.
Whether they’re a world-renowned athlete or the next-next big thing outta Brooklyn, if they’ve had some sort of impact on your life, it’s gonna be intimidating when you're face-to-face. If you are a naturally suave, stone-cold chiller who experiences no anxiety in such situations, this article does not apply to you.
For the rest of us, it’s time for some prep work.
Here are some things to consider before making your mark on your beloved influential figures, compiled with care by a live-music junkie who, between ages 15-18, painfully learned most of these lessons firsthand.
They know that you love them.
You may be inclined to exclaim "Oh my god! I love you so much. I can't believe I'm actually meeting you!" right off the bat. But child. Please refrain.
Bro. If you're wearing a jersey with their name on it, just let the clothing do the talking for you. If you just paid money to watch them play guitar and sweat into a microphone, it won’t come as a surprise to them that you LoOoOove their music so much. Instead, ask them about their cool new bicep tat. Or maybe let them know that you're currently attending their Alma Mater. It’ll make the interaction genuinely enjoyable with new, interesting information coming from both parties, rather than a never-ending, one-sided lovefest. Blegh.
Call them by their name
Consider how you address them. Are we gonna squeal “OMG Mika!” or just hit him with a “What's up, Michael?” This really sets the tone for an interaction, just like it would if it were, say, your classmate, and not your childhood savior.
On the off-chance that you see a family member of the person you adore and you want to talk to them, CALL THEM BY THEIR NAME. When Indie Yelich happens to sit next to you in Washington Square Park, you will not say "Oh, hello there, Lorde's sister," but rather, "Hi Indie, I've read your poetry and think it's really great." Capisci? Capisco.
Read the room
Crucial. READ IT. Did you spot Ben Platt in City Hall Park on a date, clearly hiding under the hood of his sweatshirt, the brim of his baseball cap, and his thick sunglasses? Probably not the ideal time to ask him to record a video for your best friend who’s his “biggest fan you don’t even knooow! OMG you’ve helped her through so much!” Yeah, no. Not gonna do that. Except you did, and you will feel like your cheeks turn scarlet every time you watch it. (But hey, at least he made the video.)
No gifts, please
Bringing them a gift will surely make you stand out. It will also make you look like you’re fourteen. This isn’t to say you should shy away from sharing art inspired by other artists. Just be aware that gift-giving will always stamp you as SuperFan, but rarely Chick-I-can-have-natural-conversations-with.
However. If you do make something awesome that you think they would enjoy, there's totally a non-lame way to do it. Calmly handing fka Twigs the funny letter you wrote about how her album led you to your most unexpected relationship? Cool. But presenting Portugal. The Man with your avant-garde drawing, asking them to sign it for your friend, only for them to deflate-- they thought it was a gift, not an autograph slip-- is a little awkward, regardless if they laugh it off or not. (But Brownie points for you-- they liked your art!)
You get whatcha get
Sometimes they just won’t be able to take a moment for a conversation or a photo. That’s just life, man. No need to get down on yourself— write down the interaction later, in as much detail as you can, to substitute for the lost photo op. As much as they’re normal and human, there’s a good chance their schedule is a tad more packed than the average Joe's.
Everybody has bad days. If they’re off when you meet them, remember it isn’t because of you. Don’t go trying to cancel them on twitter just because they didn’t absolutely ah-dooore you. When Mitski gives you the evil eye when you tap her on the shoulder, it’s because you caught her off-guard, not because she hates you. You hope. You genuinely, genuinely hope.
Often heard, but often forgotten. They are a normal, oxygen-sustained human being, just like you. There's no need to puff your chest or put on a front if you meet someone who you've been inspired by. When Mac Demarco offers you a cigarette, saying "no" won't kill the vibe; he'll light his and continue talking.
And, as in any context, you're most likeable when you're most you. This will be proven when you hang on the couch with your new pal, Dom, at the afters, only to find out hours later that he was Dom... from Mount Kimbie. You were utterly your strange self when you sang him "Dominick the Donkey," and he dug it, because you were you.
The bottom line here?
No amount of followers, fame, awards, or bodyguards will outweigh the fact that every single one of these people is a human just like the rest of us. Just as you appreciate the things they've done as themselves, they'll appreciate how you approach them when you're yourself.